There were two uncomfortable things about this moment – the cold metal under my bare feet and the pungent odor that reminded me of a high school locker room. As uneasy as these things made me feel, it was nothing compared to the next thing that I was about to experience.
I wanted to open my eyes and peek; I wanted to know the truth. But I also wanted to keep hiding, to keep ignoring, to keep pretending.
Finally my curiosity overwhelmed my apprehension and I opened my eyes to look down at the number on the scale below. Those simple numbers were perceived by my eyes and then wired through transmitters where my brain was able to comprehend them. My brain then kicked in to process these numbers and I thought one simple thought…
Huh? So that is what I weigh. That sucks.
I was surprised, calm, furious and sad.
I knew that I had to change. More importantly I knew that I could change. Most importantly…I began to change.
I created an Excel spreadsheet that I would use to log the numbers every time I weighed myself. This spreadsheet would not only show me how much I weighed on a certain date, it would show me how much I had lost or gained since the previous date, and since the beginning of my records.
I began that spreadsheet on August 27th, 2011 and I stopped using it on March 27th, 2012.
Over the course of those 7 months I lost 55 pounds!
And today, over a year after all of this began, I am still at my goal weight. Let’s take a look at 5 ways I found success and 5 lessons that I learned along the way…
Key to success #1 – Expectations matter
Your expectations will make or break your plans from the beginning. We all know people that have set off with good intentions of making a diet/exercise/lifestyle change, but they quickly give up. Why? There are many reasons, but one of the primary reasons is that they are expecting unrealistic results in an unrealistic timeframe. My expectations were simple – to lose weight each week, and to exercise more each week. It didn’t matter how much I lost, or how much further I was able to push myself in training, all that mattered to me was that I was moving in the right direction.
Key to success #2 – Sweat the small stuff
Small stuff matters. Small decisions, when compounded together, determine your destiny. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about time, energy, food, or exercise – realize that your small choices are what make or break you. Your health is a massive collection of small decisions; make the right ones.
“I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible.” - Saint Teresa
Key to success #3 – Plan ahead
This may be one of the most critical steps to becoming healthy. Far too often we are living at a hectic pace and simply “going with the flow”. A healthy life takes intentionality. It takes planning. Plan your week. Plan your training time. Plan and prepare your meals in advance. Plan what lunch you are going to bring to work. Plan what you are going to buy before you go to the grocery store. Plan, plan, plan.
Key to success #4 – This, not that
You aren’t perfect and your plans won’t be perfect. You can’t eat perfect and you can’t keep a perfect training schedule. Sometimes the best small decision you can make is to choose the lesser of two evils. Like the popular book says, “Eat This, Not That!”
We make “this or that” decisions all the time. Becoming healthier is about realizing how many times we are faced with that decision and it is about making the better choice. This may not feel better or taste better, but it will be better than that in the long-run.
Key to success #5 – Process not products
Contrary to what the late-night infomercials and creepy commercials may tell you, there are no miracle products. There is no shortcut to true and lasting health. Don’t look for magical products, rather focus on the process of becoming healthy!
Now, that said, there are products that can help you in your diet and training. But my advice is to always look for products to enhance what you are already doing. I started 100% clean with no products, supplements, or anything of the sort. After I proved my diet and training, then I began to look for products that would help me enhance and sustain what I was already doing. (That is when I began using Wilderness Athlete.)
Lesson Learned #1 – 24 Hours is a long time
We’ve all said it – “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” Most days feel that way, they really do. But 24 hours is a long time. Maybe the day is long enough but we don’t use it properly. Maybe we waste too much time. Maybe we aren’t efficient enough. Maybe there is time to train.
I understand what it is to be busy. I work 40+ hours, I have a 3-year-old, and an 8-month-old, a wife, and a house. I write a lot, I practice, I run, I volunteer, I serve, etc. There are enough hours if we take advantage of them with wisdom and intentionality.
Lesson Learned #2 – Sleep is better than rest
Like I was saying, we waste too much time. Rest isn’t sitting on the couch and watching television or playing on the Internet. That is stimulation and it will actually hinder your sleep, and sleep is where you can truly rest. Do work. Take advantage of your time. Don’t lose sleep because you are staying up and doing something dumb. Rest for real. Be so tired and exhausted when you go to bed that you can’t help but sleep like a baby.
“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.” - Jules Renard
Lesson Learned #3 – Comfort is the enemy
We live in a society that is built on comfort. Everything is about our comfort. This has made us a weak and comfort-dependent people. Comfort is the enemy. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Do something that is a challenge. Do something that will hurt. Question why you do what you do – how much of your actions are motivated by comfort and ease. Change.
Lesson Learned #4 – Rewards are best when earned
Work hard and then reward yourself. Period. End of story. (And don’t confuse the order of those two things.)
Lesson Learned #5 – It is possible
I think you are capable of far more than you believe. In fact, I know you are. There is only one way to figure out what is possible and what is impossible, and that is to try. Running 18 miles on some of the toughest trails in the state sounded impossible to me last year. Now, it is very possible, in fact I’ve done it. Pick something impossible and go after it. The only way to truly fail is to never try.
Getting in better shape has certainly made me a more effective hunter, which is nice, but what truly matters is that I am now a more healthy person. Don’t take your health lightly. There are people in your life that love you and depend on you, and you owe it to them to take care of yourself so that you are able to take care of them.
If you have any specific diet/training questions about my weight loss, I would be happy to answer them for you. I’m no expert, so all I can share is my experience.
“Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice
with courageous patience.” - Hyman Rickover